GREENWICH, Conn. – Greenwich residents would see a slight increase in property taxes and a $20 million project to construct a new central fire station would begin under the 2013-14 spending plan unanimously passed Thursday evening by the Board of Estimate and Taxation.
The $427.88 million budget now goes to the Greenwich Representative Town Meeting in May for a final vote.
The plan is about 6 percent more than the year's budget and includes a 2.75 percent increase on the town's mill rate. The town's mill rate determines the amount of taxes paid by property owners based on property value.
The budget includes the school spending plan of $140.9 million that the Board of Education passed in December.
However, $3.1 million for the music instructional space and auditorium project, known as MISA, was withheld at the request of the Board of Education. Further studies will be done on drainage impacts and to compensate for the cleanup of hazardous chemicals discovered on the construction site at Greenwich High.
The education portion of the budget was also passed with a caveat calling for a closer review of the specific elements of Superintendent William McKersie's push for enhanced digital learning in Greenwich classrooms.
Although most of the deliberations and voting went smoothly, the Democratic and Republican members of the board took about a half-hour to debate whether to pay off the $20 million fire station project over five years or 20 years. The six Democrats on the board tried to pass a motion to spread the payments out over 20 years, but it was struck down.
Democrats also tried to vote to cut the town tax collector's salary in half. Democratic board member William Finger said an elected official should not be paid the $94,000-plus-benefits salary currently paid.
The town's tax collector Tod Laudonia was in the audience, but Finger said he has held this position since before Laudonia was elected. The motion failed to pass, however.
The highest single line item passed on the evening was the town's contributions to employee benefits, totaling nearly $84 million. Although that amount is a contractual obligation, several board members reiterated that those obligations will only go up in the future.